Starting Solids With Your Baby
“Gone are the days of mushy peas and the sneaky “here comes the airplane” trick – with baby led weaning, parents give babies control of their mealtime experience.”
This guest post was provided by Michelle Evans, RD.
Starting solid foods is an exciting time in a baby’s life, and for his or her parents! It can also bring about a lot of uncertainty and questions – what kind of food is my baby supposed to be eating? How can I make sure that they’re getting off to a nutritious start? Is it true that food before one is just for fun?
Baby Led Weaning (BLW), sometimes called Baby Led Feeding is a relatively new concept in Canada and the US, though it has been widely practiced internationally for generations. Many parents are leaning towards introducing solids with BLW for a variety of reasons, but there are some important nutrition considerations to make before deciding if BLW is right for you, and if it is, how to implement it safely.
Baby Led Weaning/Feeding essentially brings your baby to the family table right from the beginning of their solid foods journey. Gone are the days of mushy peas and the sneaky “here comes the airplane” trick – with baby led weaning, parents give babies control of their mealtime experience. Our role as parents is to provide foods in safe textures and shapes, typically handheld foods about the size of your finger or larger, and baby’s job is to explore, taste, munch and learn the skill of eating. BLW bypasses the puree and spoon-feeding stage entirely, serving baby the same foods as the rest of the family (with some modifications for safety and to optimize nutrition).
Benefits of Baby Led Weaning
Studies have shown that baby led weaning may help with gross and fine motor development (hand-eye coordination and dexterity), oral motor and speech development, and may help babies to better understand their hunger and satiety cues, leading to a healthy relationship with food and their bodies going into childhood and beyond.
Some researchers believe that by introducing a wide range of flavours and textures early on, BLW may even help to reduce the incidence or severity of picky eating. BLW also makes it easy to serve baby food – no more expensive little jars or pouches, no more fancy equipment, or extra time and money spent on special meals for baby. You can just take the same meal that your family is eating, and in many cases, serve the exact same food off of your plate to your baby’s high chair.
Health Canada’s recommendations around starting solid foods for infants around six months of age include reference to baby led weaning practices, encouraging parents to offer a variety of textures including purees, minced or finely chopped foods, and finger foods such as fingers of toast, omelettes, and more!
What about Choking?
Of course, the concern that most parents have with BLW is choking. But the research shows babies who are fed with BLW are at no greater risk of choking than puree-fed babies. One study found that BLW-fed babies were actually at decreased choking risk with finger foods compared to their puree-fed counterparts, when BLW was done correctly with appropriate shapes, sizes and textures!
Starting Solids With Baby Led Weaning Workshop
If you have been curious about baby led weaning or thinking about starting solids with your baby, be sure to check out this Starting Solids with Baby Led Weaning workshop on July 16th.
About the Guest Author:
Michelle Evans is a Registered Dietitian (RD) in Toronto and owner of The Family Table Nutrition Services, a practice dedicated to family relationships with food. Michelle educates and supports parents and parents-to-be in all areas of nutrition pertaining to family eating, including prenatal and postnatal health, infant nutrition and starting solids, toddler nutrition and pickiness, meal planning help, and more.